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Ottolenghi and the Cakes of Versailles
by Karen Pecota

Filmmaker Laura Gabbert and her filmmaking crew follow famous chef Yotam Ottolenghi as he creates art and decadence of cakes inspired by the life lived decades prior at the Palace of Versailles. Ottolenghi was contracted by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York for a special event celebrating the influence of the French decadence.

Ottolenghi was honored to be invited to design and present the program, but felt the weight of the request within an unbelievable time crunch. He knew he would not be able to handle the task alone so he gathers a remarkable team of six famous chefs in the dessert world to assist him–Dominique Ansel, Ghaya Oliveira, Dinara Kasko, Sam Bompas, Janice Wong and himself, Yotam Ottolenghi. He was confident the team would help bring his vision to life. He just had to convince them that they were up to the task.

Yes, even famous chefs have accidents in their prep world and these six were no different pursuing their collaborative creations of a true feast of Versailles. Ottolenghi does not shy away from filming the enormous difficulty of each chef's assignment. At the same time, he acts as a history guide of pastry making. He gives a very interesting history lesson on ingredients that we so often take for granted, like sugar and chocolate.

Ottolenghi and various historians give us insight into the life of the French centuries gone by at Versailles. We learn about what life was like in the kitchen during these opulent times of the Sun King and the demise of Marie Antoinette.

The Met was so proud of the pastry presentation Ottolenghi and his team created of art for the eye and pallet at their French exhibition gala. Their decadent spread featured: whirlpool cocktail, posh Jell-O shots, architectural mousse cakes, chocolate sculptures, swan parties, an edible garden, and more. Oh, to be a fly on the wall before, during, and after this event! Gabbert's cinematographer, Judy Phu, using her expertise allowed the film audience to be presen–virtually!